Political News

New York Times: White House balances a complicated dynamic between Melania and Ivanka Trump

Posted November 11, 2018 2:08 p.m. EST

— White House aides face a complicated dynamic in managing the activities of the first lady and first daughter, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The challenge of managing that relationship -- and any potential issues -- has manifested itself in the two women's separate trips to Africa, according to the Times report.

First lady Melania Trump took her first solo international trip to Africa in October, visiting Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt in a week and touting her "Be Best" initiative.

The President's daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, is planning a trip to Africa in January, intent on highlighting her interest in economic empowerment, according to the Times.

For the first lady's trip to Africa, her office asked West Wing officials to allow her space to showcase the work she was doing, which included a photo of the first lady holding a child, two people briefed on the conversation told the Times.

Two days later, Ivanka Trump posted a video to Instagram of her trip to North Carolina after it was hit by Hurricane Michael, which ended with a similar visual of her holding a young child.

White House chief of staff John Kelly, who the Times reported was supposed to help manage the relationship between the two women's offices, was alerted about the video and later discussed it with Ivanka Trump's staff, the newspaper said, citing two people familiar with the talks.

The first lady and first daughter view their jobs differently and coexist with little overlap in their roles, according to the Times. They have rarely appeared together and have not hosted a joint initiative organized by their staffs since Melania Trump's move to Washington, the newspaper noted.

The two joined President Donald Trump on a trip to the Vatican to meet with the Pope, the President's first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia last year, and recently to visit the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting last month.

Ivanka Trump's friends say she has "noticeably bristled" when posed questions she views as a first lady's responsibilities and has expressed that she's in the White House to tackle policy issues, the Times reported.

A friend of Ivanka Trump told the Times that the first daughter was attempting to avoid stepping on the first lady's toes when she referred to certain duties as within the East Wing's realm.

The first lady's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, did not directly address the Trumps' relationship, telling the Times in a statement: "The office of the first lady is focused on her initiatives and works independently, but we often collaborate on a variety of projects with the West Wing and have a very positive working relationship."

A White House official who spoke to the Times only on the condition of anonymity said there is no tension between Melania and Ivanka Trump and that the two have a "great relationship."

"As strong independent women, each has their own unique portfolio but they always support each another personally and professionally," the official told the newspaper.